Dragons of Loneliness
Dragons of loneliness
Stand over me
From human warmth and love
Ever guard me.
Shield me from friendship
The weakness of love
Mercy and goodness
The gifts of above.
Though I cry out for mercy
And sicken from fear
The dragons unyielding
Let no healing near.
Oh come, knight, and free me
On great charging steed
Hear my cry, help me
In my hour of need.
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 10"Where are we going?"
He swung his horse round to look at her. There had been an undertone of panic in her voice. "I told you already. To Assenport."
"No, I mean now." She jerked her chin at the main road behind her, the one they'd just left. "Why are we leaving the big road? Where are you taking me?"
If he hadn't been holding her lead rope, she probably would have wheeled her mount and galloped away. She had proven an excellent rider. "I'm not going to hurt you," he said irritably. Hadn't he proven that last night? She hadn't been thrilled that he'd slept on the carpet in the same room, but he'd heard her snoring away on the bed after ten minutes -- not at all like someone worried for her safety. Now she looked frightened half to death.
"It's not you I'm worried about," she said stiffly. "Yet." She nodded at the dark, looming mass ahead of them. "It's that."
He followed her gaze to this most ancient of forests. "There are no witches, fairies or ghosts in Brociliande."
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 09"I suppose it could have been worse," she muttered to herself, watching him tie his horse to the hitching rail. "It could have been Barrford. He would have -- anyway. It could have been worse."
She knew he wasn't working for Barrford, because the first thing he'd done after tying her hands to the saddle was to check for her scar. That had earned him a kick in the shoulder, which made her feel better in more ways than one. Barrford didn't know about the scar; therefore, the manhunter wasn't working for Barrford. She slumped off her horse and stood there in the dust as water squished from her new boots and dripped from her hem. Soon she was standing in the middle of her own private swamp. The ends of her hair had dried into crazy ringlets that poofed this way and that. She felt eyes boring into her and looked down, away. People passing by stared. Men exchanging news on the porch of the inn stared.
The gelding whickered and reached out to nuzzle her. She smiled feebly and rubbed his forel
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 08It felt good to have his horse back. He was the first one to the north gates in the morning, the first to go hurtling out of them to Aldor. He had a strong feeling that he was leavig his prey behind -- and an even stronger feeling that she would follow him to Aldor, sure as night follows day.
It was only fifteen ells to Aldor. The road was straight and tolerable, having dried somewhat overnight, and he was at the guild outpost well before noon, with a spread of neat onionskin documents in Jillian's perfect hand across his table and a cup of coffee firmly in his hand.
Count Frederick Augsburg, notable Hansa merchant, often suspected of sharp dealing but never actually caught at it. He, along with certain other Hansa big names, was probably behind the forming of the LeCrosiaan pirate fleet -- not the first time a mercenary force had gotten out of hand once its initial purpose had ceased to exist.
Kyril's knuckles grew white. He remembered the fleet all too well. He didn't need notes for
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 07It was a quiet little brick building in Osterling, several days' ride from the bustling trade hubs of Assen and Gorod. The peaceful air about the place gained added charm from the constant flutter of messenger pigeons around the aviary towers. These were not the common street pigeons to be found in every city park and under the eaves of every cathedral; these messenger pigeons were twice the size (leading some to dub them "king pigeons") with deep chests, broad wings, and a keen sense of direction. The Manhunter guild was small but far-flunt, and they bred the pigeons in order to keep even distant agents in touch with headquarters.
One of these fluttered in now, landing on the windowsill and cuck-cooking peremptorily for someone to come and take off its message tube.
"Ya, ya." An elderly man got up from his desk and shuffled over to the window. He had been a fearsome agent in his day, until an injury reduced him to "working for the birds" as he called it. "I'm coming. What news you got
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 06He was wet, and he was hungry. About the only thing going for him was that his new horse hadn't gone lame.
The tracks weren't telling him anything. He had started near the gates, checking to see how far ahead of him his quarry was, to gauge the gap by the age of his gelding's tracks. The problem was, his gelding's tracks weren't there.
The weather was bad and the mud deep, so there were few travelers making few tracks. Anyone who was half a rider could have been here by noon on that gelding. He had taken it for granted that she would be in a tearing hurry.
Had she taken a different road, to Attlhinde or Bonekettle? Had she been killed by thieves? Had she given up, gone back and turned herself in?
These and other unpleasant possibilities loomed in his mind. If she had left the trail in panic and broken her neck in the woods, he would never get the rest of his fee.
He slapped his gloves against his thigh. He needed that money. More importantly, he needed to keep his reputation inta
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 05Rain dripped down her neck. She'd pulled the shawl up around her shoulders again, but it wasn't waterproof. No one had been around to see her do that, but the thought was not comforting right now. She peered at the weak green light filtering through the forest canopy. Dawn was still an hour away, and the storm wolves lingered.
She had slept fitfully and then left the convoy at the first hint of daylight, chased by uneasy dreams of a polite voice and the tap of calfskin boots. As if she hadn't been in enough trouble already! Mother was right; she was too quick to act.
On the other hand, if she hadn't acted quickly five days ago...
"She who hesitates is lost," she whispered, and stopped the horse. She smelled smoke.
She did not relish the prospect of walking in the now knee-deep mud, but instinct told her she'd have a better chance of evading detection on foot. If worst came to worst, she could always let go of the hackamore and step into the trees. She was not afraid of the woods.
Hunter's Mark - Chapter 04It was cold.
She ducked her face into the gelding's mane, warming her nose for a blessed moment before she had to watch the road again. She longed to pull the shawl up around her shoulder, but she couldn't. Not in front of all these people. They might be as cold and tired as she was, but they weren't blind.
She had fallen in with a merchant train, a caravan of two dozen wagons and some horsemen. Some of the burghers driving the wagons had wives at their side, and there were two other women on horseback. This relieved her. She wouldn't stand out so much.
Perhaps it was foolish, putting herself in the way of so many eyes. But anyone passing her on the road would be far more likely to remember a lone woman than an individual traveling among several others. She was safer from attack this way, too. The countryside wasn't as dangerous as it had been during the secession wars, but the occasional bandit nest was still to be found in the deep woods.
And it was woods they were passing through no